Watching the video of 8-year old Amber Debu finishing the Fall City Half Marathon Saturday morning, October 11, 2014, you might think she just ran an easy 5K race – not just completed 13.2 miles alongside her dad with an 8-minute mile pace.
Her time also broke the male 8-year old world record time. The young Redmond resident not only set a new record, but she shattered the old record of 1:54:07.
Run Snoqualmie race organizer and Mount Si High School cross-country coach, Sean Sundwall, said Amber’s much faster world record time will make it harder for the record to be surpassed in the future. The previous, seven minute slower record was set earlier this year.
Sundwall said it was an honor to have Amber run the race; that she truly embodies a “can-do attitude” and “had a smile on her face the whole way.”
Running a half marathon is really hard for anyone, Sundwall said, but for an 8-year old to do it is a big deal. He joked that he wished he could get Amber to move to the Snoqualmie Valley School District so he could coach her in the future.
Amber Debu also set the 8-year old 10K world record in August at the Run Snoqualmie Railroad Days Race, with a time of 46:49. Two years earlier, she set the 6-year old 10K world record at the same Railroad Days Race.
Sundwall, a world-class marathon runner himself, said the primary reason he organizes numerous Snoqualmie Valley area races each year is to get kids involved in running as a sport, “not just a component of the other sports they play.”
Amber started running at the age of 4, after seeing her older brother do a couple of Sundwall’s races. Her first race was the 2011 Turkey Trot, a 5K fun run on Snoqualmie Ridge, where she won her age group.
Amber’s dad said she loved and so did a couple more races the following year, including the 2012 Railroad Days race where she set a world record – although they didn’t find out about that record until just a few months ago.
Amber’s dad, Marc, said she is very motivated, never wanting to skip runs. Running is a ‘family affair,’ too.’Most evenings they simply head to the track at Redmond High School – her dad and brothers included. Once a week, though, Amber does a long run with her dad, often on the Sammamish River Trail, and her brothers ride bikes alongside as a moving water and support station.
Marc Debu said, “We just plan on continuing having fun and if possible get faster. Amber is very excited about upcoming races, the first one being Sean’s [Sundwall] 2014 Turkey Trot in November.”
Watch Amber Debu set her world record: Amber Finishing WR Race